Boy, 11, 'shook up' after being chased by 'big cat' in latest Doncaster sighting
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11-year-old Harry Abonyi was cycling in woods with dad Martin when a large mystery animal began giving chase to the youngster.
The pair escaped unscathed from the incident which appears to be the latest in a long line of big cat sightings in Doncaster in recent years.
The father and son were biking through Black Carr Plantation on Warning Tongue Lane near to Cantley and Branton on Wednesday evening when they were approached by the animal at around 7.30pm.
Said Martin: “We were riding on the trails that circumnavigate the woods, my son was riding about 30 yards in front of me.
"As we rounded a corner I saw out of the corner of my eye a large black animal sprinting out from the cover of the woods heading directly for my son, running diagonally to head him off.
"My first thought was of a large black dog as I wasn’t geared up for expecting anything else.
"The woods are popular with dog walkers, so I quickly looked to my left to see if I could identify the owners of the dog.
"I was a bit concerned at the animals intentions at this stage, but when I looked back to see if it was close to my son, the animal had disappeared.
"As I collected my thoughts, a few things struck me. Firstly, on reflection it looked like a very large cat and not a dog, there were no owners or other people in sight or earshot.
"The animal also had to traverse a short section of bracken and undergrowth to get to my son, so the only conclusion I could draw was that it saw me coming, aborted its attack and was laying up in the bracken. Pet dogs simply don’t do that. The cover was not that dense so it must have been hiding well.
“My son at this stage knew nothing, saw nothing or heard nothing, so I told him to stop, have a rest and a drink, while I had a little look around in the undergrowth.
"Admittedly I didn’t want to get too close as a cornered cat would likely attack. So I encouraged my son to get back on his bike and ride away from the scene. I only told him later when we were out of the woods so not to cause alarm, but he was quite shook up when I told him.
“I didn’t get any pictures as it happened really fast and my son’s safety was my first concern.
"Obviously my son had no idea so he wasn’t scared at the time, but I was quite alarmed.
"When I got in I did a quick search in Google and was really surprised to find out that this area is actually a hotbed for big black cat sightings, with one being spotted less than a mile away form our sighting last year.”
There have been a string of big cat sightings in Doncaster in recent years.
Another reported seeing a “big black cat while driving off the M18 onto the M180 near to Thorne Golf Course.
The clip showed a large, black animal stealthily moving through fields on the outskirts of the village in February.
“When I realised what I’d seen, I just started panicking. It was massive and very muscular and definitely a big cat. It was quite frightening to see something like that up close,” she said.
In January 2017, Alan Tomlinson said he had seen a ‘panther’ near to junction one of the M180, close to Doncaster services.
He said: “I’ve been doing this job for eight years, and have been driving since 1982 and I’ve seen foxes and things like that but I've never seen anything like that before. It was much, much bigger than any animal I've ever driven past.
“I only saw the back of it,but I knew it was a puma or a panther when I saw the size of its tale which was curled right round. That's how I knew it was a panther.
Meanwhile, later the same year, trucker Graham Byram said he saw a trio of highways workers struggling to lift a huge dead animal into the back of a truck on the A1 near Harworth.
Stories of big cats go back to the 1960s and 70s when it was legal to keep exotic animals as pets.
But in 1976 the government introduced the Dangerous Wild Animals Act and while many owners gave their pets to zoos, rumours started that some people released their animals into the wild where their offspring still roam to this day.